Contributed by Editor

On February 28, 2020

Fab Feb

We’re certainly NOT having a very fab February, are we? It was, therefore, something of a relief to get away from the wind and rain to spend time amongst friends for some plant chat at our meeting last week.

Our speaker Philip Oostenbrink was excellent, explaining the history of the gardens at Canterbury Cathedral as well as describing how they are now and his plans for the future.

Thank you to members who braved the elements to pick something for the display. As you can see it was much appreciated.

We didn’t have as many coloured stems as we hoped but one member brought stems of Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’. These were cut during the regular pruning of some pleached limes so show the bright colour of new growths, in this case a beautiful deep reddish brown. (Apologies for the background curtain but you get the gist!) I haven’t heard of limes being use for winter colour before but this was the second example I’ve seen in as many weeks. The first was on my visit to the Sir Harold Hillier Garden, where I saw Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’. It looked to me that these trees were going to be pollarded to encourage coloured new growth and to keep them small.

Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’ at the Sir Harold Hillier Garden

At the other end of the scale, a plant with tiny flowers, Xenoscapa fistulosa, from south west Africa  – Namibia and Northern and Western Cape, South Africa – drew a great deal of attention. They must be the smallest flowers of any of the Iridaceae species. but have quite a strong perfume – I thought they smelled like bluebells. It grows from small corms, which go dormant in summer, and needs the protection of a cold greenhouse.

More colour was provided by a stunning double pink camellia and a bowl ofbeautiful hellebores, some in shades of yellow and others, both double and single, in dark purples. How I would love to have a collection like that.

Inevitably, we had snowdrops – it was February after all – and Galanthus ‘Big Boy’ was singled out for most comment. White was repeated in Ipheion ‘Alberto Castillo’.

Another member had brought leaves of Bergenia ‘Balbithan’. They were a beautiful rich red, even more stunning when they catch the sun. A small plant, bought at a plant fair, has bulked up very well but we haven’t been able to find out any more about it. However, the ‘Kent Group Sleuths’ are on the case and we will let you know if and when we find out more. If any members have any more information do please let us know.

Bergenia ‘Balbithan’

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about some of the plants our fellow members are growing and many thanks to all the contributors for bringing their plants to show us.


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